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DIRECTORY

Best Independent Publishers in 2024

Showing 37 indie publishers that match your search.

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Forest Avenue Press focuses on literary fiction, occasionally dipping their toes into memoir as well. Regardless of genre, they aim to publish work animated by joy: not necessarily stories with happy endings, but work that shows off the author’s capacity for humor and freewheeling imagination. As a result, their catalogue abounds with oddball books, each with a broad palette of literary influences. An author-focused press with a relatively small stable of talent, Forest Avenue lavishes more time and money on marketing each title than your typical indie publisher.

🔥 Hit title: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction, Fiction, Short Fiction, and Poetry

Founded in 1972, Coffee House Press has grown from tiny letterpress to internationally renowned nonprofit. They’ve managed to stay close to their roots, putting out the occasional small-batch, letterpress chapbooks, complete with hand-sewn spines. But their backlist of more traditional volumes is substantial and growing. These days, Coffee House best known for their boundary-pushing, genre-crossing novels and essay collections — many of which have won prestigious nominations, from the Pulitzer to the National Book Award.

🔥 Hit title: I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir, Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

This Portland-based indie press is highly literary without being pretentious. Their wheelhouse is fairly broad, focusing on fiction and narrative nonfiction that puts vivid storytelling on display. In practice, that often means character-driven contemporary novels and emotionally rich memoirs that pull you into all the complexities of real-life relationships. You don’t have to write within spitting distance of Forest Park to be published by Hawthorne: they work with authors from all over the country. But, true to their geographic roots, Hawthorne Books has quite a few Oregon-centered titles on their list.

🔥 Hit title: California Calling by Natalie Singer

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction and Short Fiction

This Manhattan-based press releases 90 books a year, making it relatively big for an indie publisher. It’s especially well-known among mystery connoisseurs for its Soho Crime imprint, which specializes in top-notch thrillers with a strong sense of place, a bit like traditional detective fiction crossed with travelogue. Whether it takes place in Denmark or Thailand, a Soho Crime title will set the scene so vividly you’ll feel you’re walking alongside the detective down those minutely rendered streets. Soho also publishes YA through Soho Teen and literary fiction through Soho Press proper.

🔥 Hit title: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura and Satoko Izumo (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Mysteries, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

EnvelopeBooks is a new independent publishing house founded in the summer of 2020. An offshoot of Booklaunch, a quarterly books and publishing freesheet that makes its way to 50,000 homes per issue, the EnvelopeBooks imprint is dedicated to working with authors to produce high-quality books.

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

One of the top indie publishers when it comes to literary accolades, Bellevue Literary Press has a Pulitzer under its belt, not to mention an International Latino Book Award and finalist nods from the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize. Though it began as a project of the NYU School of Medicine, Bellevue Literary Press is now a fully indie nonprofit. Still, its med school roots remain clear in its mission: publishing thoughtful books that sit at the intersection of the arts and the sciences.

🔥 Hit title: Tinkers by Paul Harding

⭐️ Best known for: Biographies, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Alternating Current Press is an indie press dedicated to publishing and promoting incredible literature that challenges readers and has an innate sense of self, timelessness, and atmosphere. We love science, history, homebound roots, rural landscapes, sense of place, poetic literary fiction, diverse voices, and all that is electric in the literary world.

⭐️ Best known for: Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Manuscript Contests. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

This independent publisher emerged in the 1970s, out of second wave feminism’s heyday. Its first print runs were dedicated to foundational women’s studies texts, biographies, and rediscovered feminist literary classics like "The Yellow Wallpaper." These days, FP’s growing list speaks to a much more modern brand of feminism, sensitive to issues of race, sexuality, and gender identity. Since 2017, the press has been headed by Jamia Wilson, its youngest-ever director — and the first woman of color to serve at the organization’s helm. Under her leadership, the press puts out exciting, impeccably crafted books by diverse writers.

🔥 Hit title: Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, Essay Collections, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Named after the left-hand page, this left-leaning publisher has been furnishing reading material for prospective revolutionaries since 1970. No wonder Harper’s hailed it as “Anglo-America’s preeminent radical press.” They lean more literary theory than literary fiction, offering sharp, syllabus-ready books across the full slate of humanities and social science disciplines, from Anthropology to Race and Ethnicity. Though many of their writers belong to the professoriate, Verso Books isn’t a university press. Their nonfiction, though intellectually rigorous, tends to be snappier than your usual academic fare.

🔥 Hit title: Females: A Concern by Andrea Long Chu

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, History, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Tin House’s legendary literary magazine may have shuttered its doors 2019, but their book publishing program is still going strong. Originally launched as an Bloomsbury imprint, Tin House Books spun off into an indie publisher in 2005. They release around 12 books a year often from first-time authors. Tin House Books publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and they have a penchant for lush, character-driven contemporary novels, playful essay collections, and memoirs that delve into complex relationships with uncompromising insight.

🔥 Hit title: Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco

⭐️ Best known for: Essay Collections, Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction and Fiction

Independent presses tend to focus on fiction and poetry, but Feral House breaks the mold. Look through their list of publishing topics, and you’ll see post-apocalyptic survival guides under Self-Reliance and gutsy exposés of government corruption under Realpolitik. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of small press that publishes highbrow short story collections or thoughtful, MFA-inflected novels. Their countercultural sensibility lends itself instead to bold nonfiction (or, occasionally, historical fiction) by unabashed firebrands.

🔥 Hit title: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, How-To Guides, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Manuscript Submission. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Short Fiction

Founded in 2014, this LA-based publisher is relatively young. But it’s already assembled a formidable stable of talent: rising star Esmé Weijun Wang shares shelf space with Booker, Pulitzer, and Philip K Dick Prize winners. Many of their titles are multicultural family dramas, full of complex relationships and pitch-perfect characterization. However, their catalogue ranges beyond literary fiction to embrace highbrow speculative fiction, collections of journalism, and even self-help books.

🔥 Hit title: The Border of Paradise by Esmé Weijun Wang

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Press 53 titles are set apart by their fearlessly anti-commercial tenor. This indie publisher specializes in publishing poets and short story writers — in other words, the kind of authors who have trouble landing book deals at more mainstream presses. Their backlist shows an interest in experimentation: look for innovative forms like flash fiction, prose poetry, and linked short stories that come together to form a novel. Based in North Carolina, Press 53 looks for great writing by authors from all over the US.

🔥 Hit title: What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Short Fiction

This San Francisco-based small press has been publishing thoughtful speculative fiction since 1995, sweeping up a full slate of high-profile nominations on the way, from the Hugo to the Nebula and beyond. Their sustained excellence has earned them legendary status in the eyes of hardcore sci-fi fans, although they occasionally dip into other, less speculative genres like memoir and mystery. Tachyon Publications’ bread and butter are its famous science fiction short story collections, which routinely earn glowing reviews from the likes of Booklist and Library Journal.

🔥 Hit title: In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

⭐️ Best known for: Science Fiction & Fantasy, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

This indie publisher got its start because Ezra Pound didn’t believe in a certain Harvard undergrad’s future in poetry. James Laughlin, then a college sophomore, went to the legendary modernist for advice. And Pound, who had been critiquing his work all semester, urged him to give up writing and “do something useful” instead. Thus New Directions Publishing was born. Laughlin retained a love for verse, so the budding press’s first books were poetry anthologies and collections by the greats — including Pound. These days, New Directions boasts a rich collection of fiction and criticism as well, especially works in translation.

🔥 Hit title: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

What is an independent publisher?

An independent publisher is a publisher not affiliated with any big corporations or conglomerates — meaning they operate independently. Think of them as the small businesses of the publishing world: they’re like chic local boutiques compared to the Macy’s and Nordstroms of the Big 5. Indie presses also tend to be small presses, an industry term for publishers making less than $50 million annually.

Independent publishers vs. self-publishers

There’s plenty to ruminate on when it comes to the distinction between indie publishing and self-publishing, but independent publishers are quite different from self-publishers. In a nutshell, indie presses operate on a far smaller scale than the billion-dollar publishing juggernauts, but they still fall under the umbrella of traditional publishing.

Resources for submitting to independent publishers in 2024

Not all independent publishers take unagented submissions, but many of them do, allowing you to cut out the middleman and make your writerly dreams come true all on your own. 

Of course, to make this happen, you'll have to be your project's best advocate. That means writing the best book you can, of course, but you shouldn't stop there — you'll have to study your target press's submissions guidelines and let them guide your next move.

Will you need to craft a killer book proposal, or brush up on your querying technique? Either way, we've got you covered. To give you a push on your path to indie publisher stardom, we've compiled some resources for putting together the perfect submission.

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Reedsy | Editorial Assessment scientist | 2023-10

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